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Grading the Cardinals draft

We all expect Patrick Peterson to be a flat out stud in the secondary, a true shutdown cornerback. So for that this draft is a success. But for this to be a truly great draft at least three maybe four of the other picks need to pan out and by panning out I mean becoming impact players.

The Arizona Cardinals success in 2008 and 2009 are deeply rooted in the drafts that netted them Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Gerald Hayes and Antonio Smith. That was a three-year span of making some quality picks that brought instant success on the field.

What has happened in the previous five drafts, four of them under Ken Whisenhunt, is nothing to write home about. Four of those drafts have failed and the fifth which was last season is incomplete this early but has some potential.

Let’s run some of the names by you in the last six years – 2006 — Matt Leinart, Leonard Pope, Gabe Watson, Brandon Johnson, Jon Lewis, Todd Watkins are the failures. Only Deuce Lutui worked out in that draft. In 2008 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie became a starter, Calais Campbell and Tim Hightower have been OK and Early Doucet, Kenny Iwebema, Chris Harrington and Brandon Keith have not made impacts. Let’s go to 2009 where only seventh round pick LaRod Stephens-Howling has made an impact. Beanie Wells, Cody Brown, Rashad Johnson, Herman Johnson, Will Davis and Trevor Canfield have flopped. Greg Toler is a good role player.

As you can see the reason for the Cardinals 5-11 record last year has a lot to do with the failures of the past drafts. Hopefully this one will net some good football players.

The key to this draft is simple. In my opinion the Cardinals should have drafted Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round and Georgia defensive end Justin Houston in the third. If they wanted a running back that high they could have grabbed DeMarco Murray from Oklahoma in the third. But I would not have passed on drafting the best tight end in the draft in the second round, especially over a running back with major question marks in Ryan Williams. Williams was hurt much of last season with a hamstring injury and was only productive in a couple of games.

If Williams, who was chosen in the second round and tight end Robert Housler, who had 73 catches in four years in college, work out then the Cardinals did the right thing. If they flop and Rudolph and either Houston or Murray end up making an impact than Arizona blew this draft. As good as Peterson is, one player does not make a draft. Arizona needs to nail the second, third and even fourth round picks – Texas defensive end Sam Acho was the fourth rounder.

The Cardinals took some gambles in this draft. For their sake they better pan out. Any grade this early should be incomplete but for the sake of argument right now I would give them a C + because they did look to get some value in the later rounds.